GLENS FALLS — Lehigh Northeast Cement Co. will hold a public meeting on its proposal to burn raggertail as fuel, and the company has come out in favor of extending the deadline for public comments.
The cement company wants to burn the plastic-paper mix in place of coal. Officials in South Glens Falls, Glens Falls and Queensbury have raised concerns about the proposal and pushed for extending public comment and holding an informational meeting.
Brodt said the company will schedule a forum in the coming weeks.
“Lehigh has strived over the past two months to answer all questions we have received about our proposal, whether via email, telephone calls, in-person meetings or through the news media,” he said in an email. “We look forward to the opportunity to continue this conversation, and will announce the meeting date as soon as possible.”
The proposal calls for using the alternative fuel along with fossil fuels in the plant’s kiln to heat limestone and other raw materials as part of the cement manufacturing process. The company had a trial run using the fuel in 2017, and it showed that the regulated air emissions are expected to remain at their currently allowable levels, he said.
“Lehigh’s use of the alternative fuel as a partial substitute for coal and natural gas will reduce the plant’s consumption of fossil fuels, keep the non-recyclable fuel product out of the state’s landfills, and reduce the company’s fuel costs and help keep it competitive in today’s highly competitive, global cement market,” he said.
At Tuesday’s Glens Falls Common Council meeting, some residents came out to express concerns about the project.
“The pollution that comes from the raggertail burning seems to us is going to be worse and it’s going to be a bigger problem than what they’re saying,” said Robin Barkenhagen of the Glens Falls Green Party.
Bill Brender of Sanford Street said he believes burning raggertail will have a negative impact on the community, even if it is done within legal limits.
Warren County has the highest incidence of invasive cancers in the state, he pointed out.
Delbert Gregory, co-chairman of the Warren County Green Party, said he wants more specific data from Lehigh about the particulates going into the air.
Mayor Dan Hall said he has been doing his own research to formulate an opinion. He said the raggertail emissions limits are low.
“They’ll be lower than coal, which to me is a good thing,” he said.
Second Ward Councilman Bill Collins, chairman of the city’s Sustainability Committee, said Lehigh asked for and received permission to do a controlled burn of raggertail.
“They found it was a reduction (in emissions) from what they were currently doing,” he said.
Collins said members of the Sustainability Committee had questions and wanted the comment period extended so they could do more research.
“There’s very little information about raggertail burning,” he said.
He cited an anecdotal example of another cement company in the state that wanted to burn raggertail but that community put a ban on it. Now it wants to burn tires instead.